Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nelly Don...The woman behind vintage ready-to-wear

Photo borrowed from Viktorya’s Art n Java

When I first started selling vintage clothing, I came across many vintage labels I had never heard of before. Yes, I studied fashion history when I went to college for Fashion Design, but Nelly Don was never a name I studied (or a name I don't remember studying).

According to this site, Nelly Don was one of the most successful American ready to wear designers in the history of American fashion. She was a self made millionaire and her designs were worn many, many women.

Photo borrowed from Crafty Crow Vintage on Etsy

Her father was an Irish immigrant and her mother was the child of Irish immigrants. Nelly Don had 12 siblings (13 children total) and she was the youngest out of 5 girls. She grew up in Parsons, Kansas. She was always given her sisters hand me down garments to wear and she learned to sew at a very young age.

Photo borrowed from Dandelion Vintage

Nelly married a man named Paul Donnelly when she was 17 years old and attended college at Lindenwood College in St. Charles, MO shortly after. After college, she became a housewife and decided she had no desire to wear the boring old frocks available for women to wear. She started making her own dresses and began giving them away to people she knew. Hey, free advertising, right? According to A Stitch in Time, "In 1916, Peck's Dry Goods Store in Kansas City ordered 18 dozen of Nell's dresses and her business was off and running". This was a true success in the making.

Photo borrowed from Far Out Vintage

Each and every Nelly Don dress I've come in contact with throughout my vintage travels has been well made. They are all very classically styled and could be worn and mistaken for modern day fashions. She was an amazing woman and designer. To find out more about Nelly Don, you can go here.

This post was written by Heather of Texas Vintage Things.


Catwalk Creative Vintage said...

It's a name I hadn't heard of before so thank you for writing about it. A label to look out for. :)

Anne, Vintage Baubles said...

I've had a few Nelly Dons, and I agree, they have all been great pieces--well made and flattering. I have a lace late 1940's dress of hers that I need to do some mending on--and this has given me a poke to do it!

Especially nice about her fashions is that many of them were made in larger sizes--so that modern women can find a fit in a Nelly Don dress.